Five myths about how to prevent sexual infections

Five myths about how to prevent sexual infections

No one wants to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but few people actually take action to protect themselves against it. Information on how to avoid these problems can be found in many sources, but the real challenge is putting it into practice.

To this we must add that, with wide access to the internet, you may have the impression that you know everything you need for an active and fulfilling sexual life, however, have you ever wondered how much you really know about how to prevent STIs? Test your knowledge by identifying if the following myths are true or false.

1. Hot water from a bathtub or Jacuzzi kills STIs.

Fake. Perhaps from the experience of disinfecting food by means of heat, you might think that having sex in a bathtub or Jacuzzi with sufficiently hot water is capable of “killing” the microorganisms that cause sexual infections, however, it is not that simple. These pathogens are not only on the skin of the genitals, but also establish themselves in the mucous membranes of the vagina, rectum or mouth, that is, far from the reach of water.

In any case, if you followed the logic of “heat = disinfection”, you would need a temperature like the one used to cook food, that is, higher than 100°C, and as far as we know, a test has not yet been carried out. Experiment to see if it would work.

2. Bathing after sex is one way to avoid STIs.

Fake. Nor would soap, no matter how “antibacterial” it may be, manage to eradicate sexually transmitted microorganisms. The reason is the one we mentioned above: even if you could remove them from the skin (which is unlikely, since they enter at the cellular level), the mucosa would harbor a large number of microbes. And please, remember that internal vaginal or anal douching is not recommended because they irritate the mucosa and can make it more vulnerable to infections, not only sexual, but of any kind.

3. You can get an STI through oral sex.

TRUE. STIs not only pass from one person’s genital or anal area to another, but can also be lodged and transmitted through the mouth by sexually stimulating a partner. Whether you give or receive oral sex, infectious agents can be transmitted through this contact in the same way as through the lining of the vagina or anus.

4. Condoms protect you against all STIs.

Fake. External (also known as male) condoms do protect you against a lot of STIs, but not all. Many of the microbes establish themselves on the skin of the pubis, labia majora, testicles, buttocks, or perineum; the clearest example of this is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). When you use an external condom, none of those areas are covered, so it’s still possible for you to pick up (or pass on) an infection.

Make no mistake, the condom is a very valuable protection tool, but it has certain limitations that it is important not to lose sight of.

5. Brushing your teeth can increase the risk of STIs.

TRUE. Although when you have a date that you know will involve sex, you probably think about arriving with the best hygiene, it is not recommended that you brush your teeth just before the meeting. The friction between the toothbrush and the gums usually opens minimal wounds on the tissue, which, for a microorganism, are more than enough to enter the body. The transmission can happen if you practice oral sex or if your partner has some oral bleeding and they kiss on the mouth. In the same way, the risk becomes more evident if you are the one who has a problem that causes your gums to bleed. It’s true, hygiene is important, but make sure you don’t brush your teeth right before you leave for your date (do it at least a couple of hours in advance), and don’t do it right after sex.

Did you manage to identify all the true and false myths? If so, don’t stop putting your knowledge into practice to take care of your sexual health. If you got one wrong, now you know what the correct answer is and you can also better protect yourself.

Remember that at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we contribute to your sexual health by offering you free HIV detection tests and free condoms. Come to us or write us by Whatsapp, we are in 11 countries in the region.